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How to Make an Effective Rhetorical Argument. A Rhetorical Analysis of Christopher Uhl and Dana Stuchul’s Book “ Teaching as if Life Matters ” Julia Brandenberger. Are all speakers as credible in their actions as they are in their words?.

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how to make an effective rhetorical argument

How to Make an Effective Rhetorical Argument

A Rhetorical Analysis of Christopher Uhl and Dana Stuchul’sBook “Teaching as if Life Matters”

Julia Brandenberger

are all speakers as credible in their actions as they are in their words
Are all speakers as credible in their actions as they are in their words?

How often do we hear a politician criticize his opponent in an argument, say for appealing too much on hypothetical situations, and then we witness that same politician using hypothetical situations in his argument?

Could it be that the ability of a speaker to demonstrate with actions what they are trying to convey with words is being overlooked?

here is an example to follow
Here is an example to follow

Christopher Uhl and Dana Stuchul’s book, Teaching As If Life Matters models how a point can be made more effectively when it is demonstrated through actions as well as words.

The authors make an argument about the kinds of reasoning that we should value, and then model how those methods actually work in the text.

The argument I will be analyzing is the introduction to the second chapter titled “Learning to Feel: Relationship With Our Bodies” which argues that traditional schooling systems attempt to downsize the importance of the body and emotions as learning tools in the classroom which leads to separation of the mind and body and can be harmful to a student.

In my analysis I will show how the use of logos (logical appeal) and ethos (character appeal) both tie back up to the use of pathos (emotional appeal), and how this further illustrates the general point of the text; that emotions are at the center of cognitive tasks.

looking at logos
Looking at Logos

The authors use logos to make a factual claim about the schooling system, but leave room for the reader to make their own emotional connection to the claim.

“IQ, intelligence quotient, contributes, at best, 20% to the elements that contribute to success in life. What’s more, IQ is fairly static….. However, emotional intelligence (EQ)—the ability to identify and handle one’s emotions and to extend empathy to others and to motivate oneself—can steadily improve over time.“

The importance of emotional intelligence demonstrated may make the reader ask: If emotional intelligence can advance and is more prevalent in everyday life, why is IQ valued more in schooling systems? They may also relate this to their experience with standardized tests and ranking. This process may stir up anxiety and distrust for the schooling system in the reader and may end up leaving them feeling as if they have been cheated out of something important.

By tapping into the emotions underscoring this factual statement, the authors bring the reader closer to seeing from their point of view.

looking at ethos
Looking at Ethos

Similar to logos, ethos is used for both its own rhetorical purpose and for appealing emotionally to the audience. The authors use ethos to establish a persona of why they should be trusted and also use it to establish an emotional relationship with the audience.

They tie in their purpose for writing the text with their own examples of how schooling affected them. This establishes ethos; it makes the reader feel like they can trust what is being said because the authors have been through the regular schooling system and are “victims.”

They extend their ethos to the audience to get them to connect and realize that they have a legitimate reason to make this argument as well.

looking at pathos
Looking at Pathos

Along with the use of logos and ethos, pathos is used on its own to demonstrate some strong emotional points.

The authors’ goal is to get the audience to sympathize with their stories and with themselves.

“When I fell and skinned my knee in the schoolyard, I was warned, “Big boys don’t cry!” It’s as if there was a sign at the entrance of my school saying, ”Check your emotions at the door!””

This strategy is effective in two ways. First, there may be a good chance that the reader will sympathize with the little boy falling at school and being told not to cry. It may seem a bit cruel to tell a little boy that he cannot cry when he is feeling hurt. Second, there is a possibility that the reader may have had a similar experience when they were young in school. If this were true, without making it obvious, a personal appeal would be made to the audience.

more pathos
More Pathos

Another way the authors make an appeal to the audience’s emotions is by giving general examples that the audience may have an easier time relating to.

“It is not surprising that school children often come to see their bodies and emotions as an encumbrance—something that can cause embarrassment and that must be disciplined….the messages young people receive are: If you are feeling bubbly, calm down; if you are feeling depressed, take a pill; if you are feeling sad, get over it… if you are feeling angry, get yourself under control; in other words, DON’T feel!!!”

Someone who was reading this may be able to relate to their own experience of their emotions being neglected in school. This could bring up memories of those times in school, which would be attached with emotions.

how this argument is effective
How this argument is effective

Although logos and ethos are clearly used in this argument, they are tied back up to pathos throughout it. The fact that this further illustrates the point that the authors are trying to make in the text itself gives them an appearance that they do indeed back up what they say with what they do.

By explaining their reasoning for why the audience needs to value emotions and then demonstrating how their reasoning actually works in their audience, the authenticity of the message is less questionable.

This argument can therefore serve as a model for how a point can be made more effectively when it is demonstrated through actions as well as words.